Preview: Pumas v Griquas

Date published: October 24 2013

Griquas go into their play-off with the Pumas in Nelspruit knowing they must improve if they want to stay in the Premier Division.

Griquas go into their promotion/relegation play-off against the Pumas in Nelspruit knowing they will have to show great improvement if they want stay in the Premier Division.

The Kimberley-based outfit's coach Pote Human admitted that his side are under pressure after claiming a narrow 21-19 victory in their backyard last weekend.

“We beat the Pumas, but only managed to do so in the final minute,” said Human.

“Now we have to travel all the way to Nelspruit to try and beat them at home.

“We experienced how difficult a side they are and now we face another huge challenge against them in the Mbombela Stadium.”

Human expects another close encounter and wants his troops to be fully focussed for 80 minutes in Nelspruit.

“Our discipline was very poor and it is something that we will really have to work on,” Human said.

“Come Friday, the game can be won by a small points margin and we can ill-afford to give away penalties within striking distance. It almost cost us dearly and we have to eliminate that.”

If Griquas want to retain their status amongst the leading unions in South African rugby much will depend on the performance of their star player Willie le Roux, who is the only Springbok in action in this encounter.

Le Roux has been in superb form throughout the season and illustrated his class by setting up Marnus Schoeman for what proved to be the match-winning try in Kimberley last weekend.

The Pumas dominated large parts of that match and are probably still wondering how they finished as losers after racing into a 13-0 lead.

An area which they struggled in last weekend is the scrums and Human has strengthened his front row even further by bringing Lourens Adriaanse into his run-on side after the tighthead prop's return from the Springboks.

Having last played in the Premier Division in 2011 – when the format was still a top-eight and bottom-six scenario – coach Jimmy Stonehouse's charges will have to give their all to return to the Premier Division.

Despite losing that first leg, the Pumas did, however, bag a crucial bonus point, which means they simply have to beat Griquas on Friday, and prevent the visitors from gaining a bonus point, to gain promotion.

If the sides were to draw level, it would come down to competition points. Should that not decide it, points difference and tries – for and against – would come into play. Otherwise, the status quo will remain.

“We had the game in our hands, but let it slip near the end,” said Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse.

“We are glad we got the bonus point though as it will make all the difference in Nelspruit.

“We need to go back this week and look at what worked and what didn't. Come Friday we need to be at our very best.”

Prediction: Griquas left themselves with a huge task and their slender lead will prove to be insufficient against the Pumas, who have been superb at their home ground throughout the season. Pumas to win by seven points and secure promotion!

The teams:

Pumas: 15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 JW Bell, 13 Wilmaure Louw, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosco Speck man, 10 JC Roos, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 RW Kember, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Corne Steenkamp (captain), 5 Rudi Matthee, 4 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Vincent Koch.
Replacements: 16 Frank Herne, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Drew van Coller/Stephan Kotze, 19 Eduan Van Der Walt, 20, Uzair Cassiem, 21 Dewald Pretorius, 22 Jerome Pretorius.

Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Jacques Coetzee, 8 Carel Greeff, 7 RJ Liebenberg, 6 Burger Schoeman, 5 Patrick O'Brien, 4 Ligtoring Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes (capt), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matt Dobson, 17 Janro van Niekerk, 18 Nick Schonert, 19 Marnus Schoeman, 20 Marnus Hugo, 21 JP Nel, 22 Nico Scheepers.

Date: Friday, October 25
Kick-off: 19:10 local (18:10 BST, 17:10 GMT)
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Sieg van Staden, Cobus Wessels
Television match official: Johan Greeff